Good morning, Blues!
We may be in the middle of a 19-day break from our domestic programme, with another six days to go before we reconvene at Goodison Park for a crucial Premier League game against Everton, but there’s still plenty being written in the media.
Let’s start with some transfer news and, according to reports in Spain, City will attempt to sign Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar when the transfer window opens this summer.
Mundo Deportivo believe City and rivals Manchester United will battle with Real Madrid to land the Brazilian superstar’s signature.
They believe Real are favourites but say the player hasn't ruled out alternatives and would consider a switch to the Premier League.
And Don Balon are reporting that Lionel Messi has personally asked Neymar to snub Real Madrid and join City instead, should the former Barcelona man decide to leave the Parc des Princes.
Messi, who has spent this week at the CFA preparing for Argentina’s friendly with Italy, is understood to be an admirer of the job Pep Guardiola has done at City and believes Neymar would be a good fit.
That fees like a transfer saga that could run and run!
Meanwhile, Jonathan Wilson, writing in the Guardian, argues that City’s brilliant form this season should not detract from the competitiveness of the Premier League.
We currently sit 16 points clear at the top of the table and if we win our next two matches we’ll be crowned champions with six games to spare.
But Wilson feels the Premier League is far more competitive than Europe’s other top leagues.
"The title race was in effect over about four months before the final snows of winter," Wilson writes. "Even if Manchester City do not wrap up the championship against Manchester United on 7 April, they will surely do so at Tottenham a week later or, if the wheels really fall off, at home to Swansea the week after that. They could almost certainly lose every game from now until the end of the season and still win the title.
"The ease of City’s success has brought out the sneerers – or perhaps, more accurately, the counter-sneerers. You see, they say, all that time you were saying La Liga or the Bundesliga were easy to win, you were wrong. This is just what happens when you have Pep Guardiola in your league. Perhaps there is some truth to that; perhaps fans who tend to watch the Premier League did not appreciate quite how good Guardiola is.
"The counter-counter-sneer is that although the Premier League has not had much of a title race (in terms of it being tight all the way to the end) since Brendan Rodgers’s Liverpool made their doomed pursuit of City in 2013-14, it has been different sides running away with it: José Mourinho’s Chelsea, Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester and Antonio Conte’s Chelsea.
"It is not Barcelona and Real Madrid wrestling for the title every year and it is not Bayern Munich winning with a crushing inevitability. It may be that City go on to win the title next season and perhaps beyond but if they do, their domination will not be for the same reasons. The wealth of Abu Dhabi distorts the picture but the latest Deloitte report into football finance shows that they are not the Premier League club with the highest annual revenue: Manchester United’s is 28% higher than City’s and there are three other Premier League clubs in the world’s top 10, and 10 Premier League sides in total in the top 20 (two of them, slightly oddly, could yet be relegated this season: West Ham and Southampton).
"Bayern’s revenues, by contrast, are 77% higher than the next highest Bundesliga club, Borussia Dortmund. Barça’s revenues are slightly lower than Real Madrid’s but still 138% higher than those of the third La Liga team, Atlético Madrid. That is not just domination but hegemony. This is not a case of a good manager and a good group of players coinciding so a team stay on top for a while; it is structural.
"In that sense, the Premier League is by some way the most competitive major league. But that is not the only measure of competiveness. The Premier League has had four different champions in the past five seasons,"
It’s a fascinating piece that’s well worth your time.
Okay, that’s all for this morning’s roundup, Blues. But stay with us throughout the week as we begin our build up to the game at Everton this weekend!